SADC should revise its thinking on Mugabe

The US based Freedom House has called on the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), to revise their preliminary statements in which they congratulated Zimbabwe on holding “free and peaceful elections, and acknowledge flaws in the just ended voting process.

Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai

Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa programs at Freedom House told SW Radio Africa that SADC, the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement, should halt any actions or statements that would legitimize the ZANU-PF government until a genuinely independent investigation is conducted into electoral irregularities.

Petrovic said the elections were not free and fair and urged the international community to condemn the Zimbabwe elections.

Botswana announced this week that the electoral process was extremely flawed, but outside criticism has largely come from organisations and countries in the west.

A defiant President Robert Mugabe stated on Wednesday he would press ahead to form a government despite the western criticisms. “We are very happy that we have dealt the enemy a blow, and the enemy is not Tsvangirai.

"Tsvangirai is a mere part of the enemy. The enemy is he who is behind Tsvangirai. Who is behind the MDC? The British and their allies. Those are the ones who were the real enemies."

MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe of rigging the elections and is preparing to file an election petition before Saturday.

Last year the Freedom House released results of a survey that claimed ZANU PF support had increased significantly since the controversial 2008 polls while support for the MDC-T had dwindled.

But Petrovic said: “That survey was done a year ago and it was a snap shot of the then political attitudes and support of political parties.

“Using something that was done over a year ago to support the results of a fraudulent election is not correct. Our survey over a year ago cannot be used as a measure for the support of political parties today.”

He said the elections were plagued with voters roll manipulation and widespread intimidation from ZANU PF, with local NGOs noting systematic disenfranchisement during the election process. A significantly higher number of MDC voters were said to have been turned away in urban strongholds of the party, than in rural ZANU PF strongholds.

“The fact that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai won the same number of votes this election as he did in 2008, while President Robert Mugabe received one million more than he did in 2008 raises serious suspicions,” Petrovic said in a statement issued earlier. “However, reports of vote rigging should not come as a surprise. Election results were decided long before Election Day.”

The Freedom House officer said SADC should intervene and examine the electoral process and see if Zimbabwe complied with the regional body’s guidelines governing free and fair elections.

Meanwhile, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) also issued a statement questioning the results of the July 31st polls. The RFK Center, said the environment leading up to the vote was characterized by an unequal playing field, replete with widespread breaches of domestic and international law, and widespread irregularities continued on election day. – SW Radio Africa News

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